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James Harden scores 48 points, Rockets win 9th in row

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The NBA's hottest team has found a home on the road.

Houston won its ninth consecutive game after James Harden scored 48 points and the Rockets rallied from 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 124-117 on Saturday night.

The Rockets, who trailed for most of the game, won their eighth consecutive road game, running their season road record to 12-1. It is Houston's best road start since the 1996-97 season.

Harden hit 16 of 29 shots and grabbed eight rebounds, while Chris Paul scored 24 points and Trevor Ariza had 13 for Houston. The Rockets' 20-4 record is the best by percentage in the NBA this season.

''We're riding high right now. That's great. We know we'll have some bumps. We have a lot of things to figure out, but we just keep getting better and grinding it out,'' Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Houston took a good punch from Portland, which was trying to end a three-game home court losing streak. Damian Lillard tied a franchise record with nine 3-pointers and scored 35 points, while C.J. McCollum had 28 for the Blazers (13-12).

''It was disappointing to lose. . We had a lot of good efforts from a lot of different players. It was good to be in a game at the end against a really good team,'' Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

Houston hasn't had a close game in a while, particularly with Paul returning to action from an early season knee injury. That changed Saturday as Portland built a 98-84 lead after three quarters, though Lillard started the fourth quarter with an ice bag on his right foot after limping to the bench.

Houston went to a small lineup, and punished Portland's defense with 1-on-1 offense. The Rockets hit 15 of 18 shots, and Harden and Paul combined to score 25 of the team's 40 fourth-quarter points.

''Me and James were talking about how cool it was. I went a few times and then he got to go a few times. It was fun that we got to play off of each other like that,'' Paul said.

Harden went 6 of 7 during the fourth quarter, including five layups.

''We went small and they had to adjust to us . once they did that, we had shooters on the court and the lane was wide open. So it was layup, layup, layup, 3-ball,'' Harden said.

With Lillard's foot on ice, Houston launched a rally, pulling to 103-98 when Lillard returned with 7 minutes remaining. But the Rockets had momentum, and took a 110-109 lead on Ariza's 3-pointer.

The Rockets never trailed again, outscoring Portland 14-6 during the final 3 minutes.

''It took everything we had to beat them,'' D'Antoni said.

The Blazers, eager not to finish a home stand 0-4, were aggressive early, as Lillard hit two 3-pointers but also drew two fouls during the first 3 minutes. Midway through the first quarter, Lillard stepped in front of Paul and earned a charging foul, touching off a battle of words that resulted in technicals to Portland's Meyers Leonard and Paul.

Lillard's 3-pointer gave Portland its largest lead of the first half at 57-46, but Houston outscored the Blazers 16-5 during the final 5:37 to pull even at 62 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston is 10-0 with Paul in the lineup. ... Paul missed 14 games with a knee injury. ... Nene returned to action after missing one game with a corneal abrasion. ... Houston plays its next seven games at home. ... Harden has scored at least 20 points in each of Houston's 24 games this season, only the second player to accomplish such a feat since the 1990-91 season.

Trail Blazers: Portland had fresh faces in its starting lineup, as Leonard made his first start and guard Evan Turner his second of the season. They were replacements for injured Jusuf Nurkic (ankle) and Maurice Harkless (quad). ... The Blazers hit a season-high nine 3-pointers during the first half. ... Portland begins a five-game trip Monday at Golden State.

ROCKETS WIN BIG AT THE LINE

Houston piled up a big edge at the free throw line, making 34 of 42 shots, while Portland took only 12 free throws, making nine.

''The disparity was ridiculous,'' Stotts said.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host New Orleans on Monday night.

Trail Blazers: At Golden State on Monday night.

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Key Players
J. Harden
13 SG
D. Lillard
0 PG
37.0 Min. Per Game 37.0
25.7 Pts. Per Game 25.7
6.3 Ast. Per Game 6.3
5.2 Reb. Per Game 5.2
46.2 Field Goal % 42.4
45.8 Three Point % 42.6
87.1 Free Throw % 92.8
  Team rebound 0:00
  CJ McCollum missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:00
+ 1 Chris Paul made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:05
+ 1 Chris Paul made 1st of 2 free throws 0:05
  Personal foul on CJ McCollum 0:05
+ 2 CJ McCollum made driving layup 0:12
+ 1 Chris Paul made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:18
+ 1 Chris Paul made 1st of 2 free throws 0:18
  Personal foul on Evan Turner 0:18
  Defensive rebound by Chris Paul 0:18
  Damian Lillard missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:20
Team Stats
Points 124 117
Field Goals 40-75 (53.3%) 45-88 (51.1%)
3-Pointers 10-25 (40.0%) 18-41 (43.9%)
Free Throws 34-42 (81.0%) 9-12 (75.0%)
Total Rebounds 44 45
Offensive 7 7
Defensive 28 26
Team 9 12
Assists 14 19
Steals 13 4
Blocks 2 5
Turnovers 12 15
Fouls 17 28
Technicals 1 1
48 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST
35 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST
1234T
away team logo Rockets 20-4 31312240124
home team logo Trail Blazers 13-12 37253619117
Team Stats
away team logo Rockets 20-4 104.9 PPG 43 RPG 18.8 APG
home team logo Trail Blazers 13-12 105.5 PPG 43.5 RPG 19.0 APG
Key Players
J. Harden SG 30.4 PPG 5.4 RPG 8.8 APG 44.9 FG%
D. Lillard PG 26.9 PPG 4.5 RPG 6.6 APG 43.9 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Harden SG 48 PTS 8 REB 3 AST
D. Lillard PG 35 PTS 4 REB 6 AST
53.3 FG% 51.1
40.0 3PT FG% 43.9
81.0 FT% 75.0
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 37 48 8 3 3 0 2 2 16/29 4/7 12/14 1 7 63 +9
C. Paul 34 26 3 7 2 0 3 2 8/14 1/4 9/10 0 3 42 +14
T. Ariza 33 13 2 0 4 0 0 2 4/7 3/4 2/2 1 1 19 +19
C. Capela 21 11 10 2 1 0 1 3 4/5 0/0 3/6 2 8 25 -2
R. Anderson 17 2 1 1 0 0 2 2 1/4 0/2 0/0 0 1 3 -7
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 37 48 8 3 3 0 2 2 16/29 4/7 12/14 1 7 63 +9
C. Paul 34 26 3 7 2 0 3 2 8/14 1/4 9/10 0 3 42 +14
T. Ariza 33 13 2 0 4 0 0 2 4/7 3/4 2/2 1 1 19 +19
C. Capela 21 11 10 2 1 0 1 3 4/5 0/0 3/6 2 8 25 -2
R. Anderson 17 2 1 1 0 0 2 2 1/4 0/2 0/0 0 1 3 -7
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
E. Gordon 29 12 2 1 1 0 2 2 2/6 1/5 7/8 1 1 15 +3
P. Tucker 30 8 3 0 2 0 1 1 3/4 1/2 1/2 0 3 12 +14
Nene 10 4 1 0 0 0 0 2 2/4 0/0 0/0 1 0 5 -15
L. Mbah a Moute 23 0 5 0 0 2 1 1 0/2 0/1 0/0 1 4 6 0
B. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Jackson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Onuaku - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Black - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Weber - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Qi - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Williams - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 124 35 14 13 2 12 17 40/75 10/25 34/42 7 28 190 +35
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Lillard 37 35 4 6 1 0 5 3 11/23 9/16 4/4 0 4 47 -2
C. McCollum 38 28 2 4 1 0 5 4 11/21 2/8 4/5 0 2 34 -16
A. Aminu 31 15 5 2 0 1 0 3 5/10 5/8 0/0 1 4 25 -12
M. Leonard 20 12 4 2 0 0 1 3 5/6 1/1 1/1 1 3 19 +1
E. Turner 27 4 4 2 1 0 1 5 2/5 0/0 0/0 0 4 12 -8
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Lillard 37 35 4 6 1 0 5 3 11/23 9/16 4/4 0 4 47 -2
C. McCollum 38 28 2 4 1 0 5 4 11/21 2/8 4/5 0 2 34 -16
A. Aminu 31 15 5 2 0 1 0 3 5/10 5/8 0/0 1 4 25 -12
M. Leonard 20 12 4 2 0 0 1 3 5/6 1/1 1/1 1 3 19 +1
E. Turner 27 4 4 2 1 0 1 5 2/5 0/0 0/0 0 4 12 -8
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
E. Davis 14 8 9 0 1 1 1 1 4/4 0/0 0/2 3 6 18 +11
P. Connaughton 24 8 1 0 0 0 0 4 4/10 0/5 0/0 0 1 9 -6
Z. Collins 18 5 2 1 0 3 1 2 2/5 1/2 0/0 2 0 11 +6
N. Vonleh 11 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 6 -5
J. Layman 14 0 2 0 0 0 1 3 0/3 0/1 0/0 0 2 1 -4
M. Harkless - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Napier - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Nurkic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Wilcox - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Swanigan - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
W. Baldwin IV - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 117 33 19 4 5 15 28 45/88 18/41 9/12 7 26 182 -35